This week’s Walk Wednesday is a trot down the canal from Crickhowell by our Walk Wednesday hero Kevin Walker, Mountain Activities.
A STROLL ALONG THE CANAL (& BACK!)
A gentle and diverse stroll through the Usk Valley near Crickhowell. Allow about 2 hours.
DISTANCE – 7kms (5 miles)
HEIGHT GAIN – 100 metres (300 feet).
START POINT – Crickhowell.
GRID REFERENCE – SO/219183.
MAPS – OS Explorer OL13. OS Landranger 161.
DESCRIPTION: A wonderfully scenic and varied walk along lanes, footpaths, and the canal, with stunning views and an awesome tree!
PARKING: The main (pay & display) car park in Crickhowell is well signposted off the main road at the eastern (Abergavenny) end of the town. The pedestrian exit through the disabled bays leads directly to the CRiC – the Crickhowell Resource and Information Centre – which is well worth a visit. There is an excellent gallery upstairs.
ROUTE: Leave CRiC and turn right along the main road past Castle Garage, go across the entrance to Standard Street (where Henry V’s sheriff’s raised his Standard to muster Welsh Archers prior to the Battle of Agincourt), and pass the Crickhowell Adventure shop on the right – a haven of delights for all outdoor enthusiasts. A short distance further, note The Bear Hotel on the right (it is here that you can enjoy a well-deserved drink later), then cross the pedestrian crossing and continue straight on down the right side of the High Street, with its marvellous collection of shops. It would be invidious to single out any shop in particular, for there is so much quality here that if you decide to explore, you will never start the walk, let alone finish it! So resist the temptation (for the moment), follow the High Street away from the shops and past the impressive mound of the Norman Castle towering above the Dragon Hotel and the cottages to the left, soon reaching a junction by the tiny police station. Turn right down Bridge Street, and follow this through a Georgian time-warp to reach the famous Crickhowell Bridge, which has 12 arches on the near side, and (bizarrely) 13 on the far side! Turn left across the bridge.
On the far side, cross the road, go through a kissing gate, and continue straight ahead along a surfaced footpath across the field. Go through another kissing gate to reach a fork, turn right across a footbridge, and continue to Llangattock Church, one of the oldest churches in Britain, with a wonderful Norman Tower and two incredibly old Yew trees. At the far side of the lytch gate, bear slightly left along the narrow main street of Llangattock village, soon reaching a T-junction where you turn right. Carefully follow the slender pavement along the right side of the road, then cross onto a wider pavement to the left and continue straight ahead for some distance, passing to the left of a chapel and climbing gently to reach a narrow bridge over the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal.
On the left at the nearside of the bridge, jutting stones allow an unlikely (and perhaps nervous) descent onto the canal towpath, which you follow (with the water to your right) for about 1km. Immediately before the first bridge, look to the left and be amazed… there is an unexpected and stupendous tree here – a Giant Redwood of such amazing proportions that it is Tolkienesque in stature. Having walked around it in awe, continue along the towpath to the next bridge – Pont y Parc.
Leave the canal here, cross the bridge and the stile beyond, then continue straight ahead on a faint footpath, heading for a gate and a stile which soon appear on the far side of the field. Cross the stile (watch out for the unexpected stream during or shortly after wet weather), and walk up the left side of the field beyond, soon reaching another stile in the top left hand corner. Cross the stile and turn right along the narrow country lane with superb views over the Usk Valley and up onto the Black Mountains. Continue around a sharp double-bend, past a farm entrance, and down a steep hill, soon reaching a junction where you go straight ahead. Follow the lane around a sharp right-hand bend, and continue to regain the same canal bridge that you met earlier.
Climb down onto the canal again, but this time, turn right and go under the bridge with the water to your left, then continue under the next bridge to reach Llangattock Wharf, with its impressive battery of limekilns. You can, if you like, cross the road bridge to explore the limekilns more closely – there are excellent information boards on both sides telling you about the history of the wharf.
Exploration over, continue along the towpath with the canal to your left, until you reach the next bridge. Leave the canal here, and walk steeply down the lane, soon passing the Old Rectory Hotel and re-entering Llangattock Village. The church and lytch gate soon become obvious on the left, and it is then an easy task to retrace your earlier steps back to Crickhowell Bridge.
Instead of going back up Bridge Street, bear left at the far side of the bridge, and walk up New Road – the Victorian Crickhowell by-pass! Towards the top of the hill, and just opposite the amazingly narrow and very obvious terraced houses (old weaver’s cottages), turn hard right up the stone steps, and follow the footpath alongside the church. Go straight on to regain the High Street next door to the delightful Bookish shop.
Turn left and continue straight into The Bear Hotel for some well-earned refreshment!
This is one of the walks followed by Kevin on his Walking Breaks. Check out what else he has to offer at www.mountainacts.co.uk